Although I love doing blind tastings as it develops your acuity in picking out the characteristics of wines, I also enjoy doing comparative tastings of known wines, usually verticals of the same wine or sometimes horizontals if we want to look at a specific vintage. This was one small group vertical tasting of Chateau de Beaucastel.
1989 – this vintage has a reputation for corked bottles and when the first one was opened, it was indeed badly corked. We crossed our fingers and opened the other bottle, and it was sound! This wine was qualitatively different from the other three, and not just because of age. It was a pale garnet colour, quite lovely and Burgundian, and the nose showed a fair bit of bretty fruit that opened up with time to be elegant red fruit (cherry?) and some herbal garrigue. On palate it was medium bodied and supple with very good length, and it stayed that way for more than two hours. It is a special wine and although it won’t develop much more, I think that it will continue to hold as it is for some time yet. Excellent.
1995 – with this one we were back the quintessential Beaucastel characteristics – still some purple hints in the colour which was otherwise fairly dark blue/red and a lovely pure nose of spice (nutmeg?) and dark plummy fruit. It was also elegant but not in the same ethereal way that the 89 was, and mellow and ready as it is, the wine became more savoury as it continued to ope up for quite awhile. I don’t expect much more development in this one but I think it will hold and be enjoyable for some years. Only the second bottle I’ve opened out of a case bought on release – glad I waited!
2004 – big dark herbal wine with a dark fruit with some faint cedar and black pepper notes, the fruit tight and hints of toasted nuts added with some time. No rush to drink but on plateau now. Best f the last two wines.
2005 – again, dark and ripe, with the most alcohol/heat, a nice lifted nose that featured blackberry jam and garrigue, and some iron/blood. It was full in the mouth though not unduly tannic and drank well but as a half step off the 2004 in overall assessment.
I’d liked to have included the 1990 as well, but we only had four people, and the 1991 except that none of us had any!